The A.P. reports on the North Koreans’ plans to fire a missile toward Hawaii next month:
The missile, believed to be a long-range Taepodong-2 with a range of up to 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers), would be launched from North Korea’s Dongchang-ni site on the northwestern coast, said the Yomiuri daily, Japan’s top-selling newspaper. The report cited an analysis by the Japanese Defense Ministry and intelligence gathered by U.S. reconnaissance satellites.
[. . .]
In Washington on Tuesday, Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it would take at least three to five years for North Korea to pose a real threat to the West Coast of the United States.
Say what? In three to five years North Korean missiles — potentially nuclear-armed ones — could threaten the U.S.? That might figure into the debate on missile defense cuts proposed by the Obama administration. Fox News reports that “Lawmakers are demanding to know why the president’s proposed 2010 defense budget cuts missile defense by $1.2 billion and does not provide any funds for the European missile defense shield as Iran and North Korea defy the international community with missile testing.” There’s puzzlement in both parties. John McCain, Jeff Sessions, and Mark Begich have all expressed concern about Obama’s steep cuts. The report adds:
The European interceptors would provide an added layer of protection to the U.S. from potential Iranian missiles. But the Pentagon is now looking at basing the interceptors onboard ships, or mobile launchers at existing U.S. army bases in Europe. But that capability won’t be ready for eight years, a former missile defense official said.
A recent Congressional Budget Office report found, “None of the alternatives considered by CBO provide as much additional defense of the United States.”
The Fox News report notes that perhaps the budget could change ”if North Korea proceeds to develop its long-range missile capacity.” Well, it seems that is happening right now. So will the Obama administration restore the cuts? Stay tuned.